The Blues have tough decisions to make before the impending trade deadline. (Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports)

If the Blues Make a Move, Who Might Go?

As the April 3rd trade deadline approaches, the inevitable rumors abound with an increasing intensity. The Blues are not exempt from this eventuality in the least; in fact, their varying levels of success during different stretches of this season augment the speculation. If the Blues play as well as they can and have, they may not need to make any trades or let any of their skilled forwards go. However, if they play as poorly as they have shown themselves capable, they would undoubtedly need to improve their personnel. Thus, two questions are most important: Does the team need to make a trade, and if so, whom could they move?

Even if the Blues continue to play as well as they have recently, it certainly could hardly hurt to add a piece. If there is any area of the team that needs strengthening, it is certainly the defense. The forwards have scored plenty of goals for the most part this season (with the exception of their poorest stretches), and if Alex Steen and Andy McDonald stay healthy, the attack should not be a problem. On the other hand, the defense is quite thin. Wade Redden has not been good enough; he has not utilized his main asset, experience, to an adequate extent. Ian Cole has been consistently unreliable as well. Kevin Shattenkirk scores many points, but makes mistakes and costly decisions in the defensive zone far too frequently. Kris Russell has not played as well as he did last year (although he is improving as the season progresses). Even Alex Pietrangelo has played sub-par defense at certain points. If the Blues make a move, it must be for a large, experienced, consistent defenseman who is reliable in his own zone. Somebody of the ilk of Roman Polak (who has, for the most part, been his usual rock-solid self) to pair with Pietrangelo or Shattenkirk would be ideal.

But who can be spared? Certain names circulate more than others. The player that inspires the most discussion seems, at this moment, to be the surging Chris Stewart. Stewart, recently named the NHL’s number one star of the week, has had perhaps the best stretch of his Blues career, including scoring a splendid, composed overtime goal against the Anaheim Ducks. Some suggest his value will never be higher, and this is probably true, but to trade him would be foolish. Stewart has been the Blues’ best forward this season; his speed and effort have been superb, and his stickhandling and finishing have been masterful. He was given a one-year contract to prove himself, and thus far, he has passed the test. To trade him would most likely (depending on the return, of course) be foolish, and the Blues would lose a fantastic forward with much career upside.

Another name being raised is David Perron‘s. Perron has been adequate this year, but many view him as perhaps the Blues’ most technically skilled player. He can be both mesmerizing and frustrating, and has looked out of sorts during stretches of this season. But his skill is certainly there. The question is, is he valued high enough? A skilled player like Perron has highlight-reel talent, but has his output matched his potential? If the return for Perron is high enough, trading him could be prudent, but that criterion must be met. There is no doubt that, if traded, Perron has the potential to be a fantastic player for another team; if he is included in a trade offer, the Blues will have a tough decision to make.

Other players rumored to be on the block include Brian Elliott and Patrik Berglund. Elliott’s situation shows how tenuous a professional hockey goalie’s career can be. After leading the league in save percentage (in fact, setting a record) and goals-against average last season, he has fell from grace, finding himself third choice behind the surprising Jake Allen and Jaroslav Halak. Part of his lack of success this year can certainly be attributed to the defense’s disappointing performance, but he has certainly been disappointing nevertheless. If a team needs a goalie, he could certainly be included in an offer; the question, again, is what return will he command? Will last year’s success outweigh his lack thereof this season? Berglund has had his best year yet, but his contract will expire at the end of the season, and some (including Jeremy Rutherford) have suggested that the Blues may have to make a decision between Berglund and Stewart. This means one of them could go at the deadline this year, and with Stewart’s success, Berglund may be a more likely candidate.

In the end, there is a reason Doug Armstrong is the team’s GM; he has been a part of several successful decisions made by the Blues administration in recent years. The most notable one was the trade with Colorado that sent former first-overall pick Erik Johnson to the Avalanche and brought the aforementioned Stewart and Shattenkirk. The trade was completely unexpected by many, but turned out to be a success. Mr. Armostrong will undoubtedly be on the lookout for a similar situation; in the meantime, Blues fans will wait with anticipation to see what the Blues may choose to do.

-Sam Lakey

Tags: Brian Elliott Chris Stewart David Perron Ian Cole Kevin Shattenkirk Patrik Berglund Roman Polak St. Louis Blues

  • Alex Hodschayan

    I don’t think it would be smart to move Stewart. While his performance has been great this year, Armstrong and other GM’s are not going to forget last year. He could be available for a longer term deal (4-5 years) for less than most think. If he stays with this club longer, I think he will have a lot of success.

    Beglund has been a guy I think we should have moved before, but his value is still high. One of the big issues with the Blues is a lack of a number one center. If they think Berglund will be that guy, then they should keep him, but I don’t see it happening.

    I think if someone was willing to take Elliott for a prospect (AHL level) goalie, the Blues might do it. Elliott has a fairly big salary to be sitting out most games and every team in the league knows it. The problem really is that Ells has no value at this point.

    I think the Blues might look to move Andy McDonald. Armstrong has a knack for making deals that no one expected. McDonald’s contract is up at the end of the season and the Blues might not have the money to re-sign him. Why lose him for nothing? On top of that, he is prone to injury.

    Whatever the Blues do, I have faith in Armstrong to improve the team and keep the budget under control.

    • Dashley R

      I say we try to keep Stewart for one more year if we can hold on to him for the right price. He definitely has improved since changing his diet, but he looked like a ghost in the playoffs. We need less night and day Berglund type players and more consistency and poise.

      I think Elliott will come out stronger and better this coming season and for the way I know he can play you cannot beat the price. As far as I am concerned he is the best goalie this team has had within the last two decades. He just needs to work on positioning in the crease and reaction speed so he does less guessing and more reacting like Quick and Lundqvist.

      Berglund and Halak need to find new homes.
      It is too bad that we are going to lose Andy for nothing.
      I think you are right about Perron.

  • Dashley R

    Please, if you are going to trade anybody, let it be Perron, Berglund, Halak, D’agostini and possibly McDonald. Perron hogs the puck too long and ends up losing it instead of sucking in aggressors and then passing to take advantage and I believe he is too selfish for Hitch’s system. Berglund is not coming anywhere close to his guesstimated potential. I understand he can be a sniper at times, but he is too inconsistent handling the puck for such a big body. This Halakness monster situation scares me like the Mark Bulger skill inflation situation did for the rams. Halak never looks comfortable handling the puck and more times than normal doesn’t ever look consistent stopping pucks which is his job. Everybody is still reliving his success in Montreal instead of seeing him for the liability that he is.
    D’agostini also looked good in Montreal at one point, but seems like he is more successful when more relied upon in the top two lines consistently. Maybe another team could utilize his skills more efficiently.
    Trading McDonald doesn’t sound very good, but I would rather get something for him than him just walk off to another team for free. He is very solid setting up the power play on the half boards and there are times 5 on 5 that he can be valuable, but being prone to injury for his price is not in the Blues best interest. All in all though, I do believe that Perron is the one player the team could get the most bang for their buck and might actually help with the team and their passing game. But that is just my opinion.

    • Alex Hodschayan

      Halak is still our number one even if his numbers this year don’t show it. He has a lifetime .917 save percentage and 2.42 GAA, so for the money he is still a solid goaltender. He will only get better in time and when the defense is doing there job around him his confidence is sky high.

      I love McDonald, but we need to cut salary after this season so I don’t see the Blues bringing him back unless he takes a huge pay cut. If we could get something for him, it would probably be a good idea.

      Dags is ready to be moved and doesn’t fit into our lineup, I think we could get a good draft pick or prospect for him and should probably go that route.

      Berglund is not a number one center, which we need, but if we can keep him for $4 mill or under, we probably should. He has a lot of upside and can be really strong on the puck.

      Perron is a tricky one. We have him locked up long term and at a really good price. You won’t get the same skill for that money on a return. If we can get a solid LHD then maybe, but it is a big risk moving him. Not looking at this season, Perron has been a huge asset for the Blues when healthy.

      Thanks for sharing, we appreciate the insight.

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